TV Educated Poker Players (TVEPPs) who have gained all their poker knowledge by watching broadcasts of the World Poker Tour or other televised tournaments are not going to be very successful if they do not get some additional education from other sources. These can include reading books, magazines, and articles on the Internet about poker strategy.
Seeing only the Highlights
Watching a one or two hour television broadcast of a poker tournament is akin two watching the highlight films of a championship boxing event. You get to see the knockout but you fail to see the grueling sparing that led up to the final blow. The TV tournaments have been edited down to the most entertaining and exciting hands. You will see the hands where a player bluffs another player out of a big pot or one where an all in player catches a miracle card on the river to knock out his opponent after shoving all their chips into the pot. These types of spectacular plays are great entertainment but can lead to the impression that winning a poker tournament is all about bluffing and getting lucky. The types of plays you see on TV at the final table when the game is short handed are not the plays that got most of these players to the final table.
Many Players use a different strategy when they get to the final table. You will sometimes hear this referred to as shifting gears. They may have played very tight and solid during the early stages of the event to get to where they are but then they adjust to compensate for several factors at the final table. They are basing some of their play on their chips size and that of their opponents. The blinds are larger so they cant afford to wait too long to play a hand. As the play becomes short handed the value of starting hands goes up a little. A player with a very short stack will have to make a stand sooner or later. This is why you will see more bluffing and playing of lesser quality hands at the final table. The players are also making bets based on their position. This is a concept that is lost to many viewers but is vital to the game.
Anyone who has played in a poker tournament knows that it is a long and tedious affair. Sometimes it is even downright boring as you sit there folding hand after hand waiting for two playable cards. Many of the major tournaments take days to play down to the final six players you see on the TV broadcast. Those who have made it to the final table started the tournament playing solid poker being very selective about the hands they played. They know that playing recklessly in the early stages of the tournament is a quick way to find themselves on the rail with the other spectators.
2004 World Series of Poker
The 2004 World Series of poker had 2,576 players entered into the final event. They could not fit all the players at the 120 tables so they divided the field in half with one group playing on Saturday and the other half playing on Sunday. After the two day one starts, there were only 1071 players left standing to start the official second day on Monday. More than half the players were eliminated on the first day of play. Many of those eliminated were newer players who were playing in their first live tournament. They won their entry by playing a satellite online and brought their TV strategy to the table of the WSOP only to find out that it was a fast way to make an early exit.